From diffusion to translation: implementation of CSR practices in MNC subsidiaries

Dima Jamali (Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Yasmeen Makarem (College of Education and Human Development, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Alberto Willi (Department of Business & Society, IAE Business School, Pilar, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Publication date: 12 January 2019



Anchored in institutional theory and sense-making theory, the purpose of this paper is to explore the implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the multinational corporations (MNC) subsidiary level in a developing country context.


This paper follows a qualitative methodology and adopts the interview technique to investigate the CSR practices of eight MNCs.


The results suggest that the CSR diffusion process goes well beyond simple imitation (i.e. adopting CSR myths or best practices intact), involving complex processes of interpretation and translation at the subsidiary level to reconcile the multiple and contradictory expectations for CSR.


The paper illustrates the dynamics of the sense-making process at the level of the subsidiary and the numerous institutional factors that are accounted for while implementing CSR activities in the host community. This paper argues that the integration of the two theories helps bridge macro and micro levels of analysis, thus providing a much richer account of how organizational actors at the subsidiary level make “sense” of a multitude of institutional pressures in the process of CSR implementation stemming from within the MNC itself on one hand (and the respective home country) and from the host community on the other hand.



Jamali, D., Makarem, Y. and Willi, A. (2019), "From diffusion to translation: implementation of CSR practices in MNC subsidiaries", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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